Lucas Etter, a 14-year-old high school student, set a new world record for solving a 3x3x3 Rubik’s Cube at the World Cubing Association’s River Hill Fall 2015 on November 21 at River Hill High School in Clarksville, Maryland. The student broke a world record of 5.09 seconds set earlier the same day, solving his cube in 4.90 seconds and marking an incredible day of cubing.
Earlier, Keaton Ellis had broken the previous world record of 5.25 seconds, according to World Records, that was just set by Colin Burn in April, at the Doylestown Spring 2015 held at Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Ellis’ time was an incredible 5.09 seconds, but it wouldn’t even last long enough to be considered a record, because it was beaten the same day.
“‘Former World Record’: since Lucas beat it at the same comp on the same day, it never counts as a record :(” the high school student with the second-fastest-ever time solving a Rubik’s Cube states on his YouTube page. He then adds, “Thanks so much to Tyler Soltis and Mr. Etter for filming this. You are the world’s best people.”
The video shows fellow competitors and members of the audience swarm Ellis in jubilation after his world record solve, heaping praise upon him, and expressing astonishment that they had been witness to such a feat.
Later the same day, 14-year-old Lucas Etter became the fastest human being to ever solve a Rubik’s Cube. Etter beat Ellis by a significant margin, shaving a full 0.19 seconds from the hours-old record. Lucas was similarly mobbed by well-wishers expressing their admiration of the of the high school student’s accomplishment.
The world record time for solving the Rubik’s Cube has been pared-down, while in spurts, ruthlessly since officially sanctioned events were first held in 1982. The first Rubik’s Cube world record was set at the 1982 West German Championship by German Ronald Brinkmann; his time was 19 seconds. Later that same year, Czechoslovakian Robert Pergl beat Brinkmann’s original mark with a time of 17.02 seconds at the Czechoslovakian Championships.
Then, for 15 years very little progress was made. The first published method for solving the Rubik’s Cube, known as the “layer by layer” method, was perfected by Dave Singmaster in 1980, according to Rubik’s. This method was continuously improved upon. First by Guus Razoux Schultz, who worked-out a method to solve the first two layers of the cube at once.
Then, in 1997, Jessica Friedrich published her method that expanded upon Guus Razoux Schultz’s method by adding “OLL (Orientation of the Last Layer) and PLL (Permutation of the Last Layer).”
Friedrich’s contribution was great: it gave cubers the tools they needed to set the first new world record in over 20 years in 2003. Dave Knights solved a 3×3 Rubik’s Cube in 16.71 seconds that year. By 2010, the record was 7.03 seconds. With Lucas Etter’s latest display of prowess, the ranks of speed cubers have a new high water mark to aim for: 4.90 seconds.
Two other sets of Rubik’s Cube algorithms have been published: the Petrus System and the Gilles Roux Method. It is reported that these are not used as widely as Friedrich’s system.
Learning how to solve the Rubik’s Cube using the basic layer by layer method is really not very difficult. With practice, just about anyone could learn to consistently solve a cube in a few minutes. Consistently solving cubes in less than 10 seconds, however, is quite remarkable. The difference is that only about a dozen sets of “moves” need to be memorized to solve a cube using the basic layer by layer method.
High school speed cubers at a sub-10 second level utilizing the Friedrich, or other, systems have memorized a very large number of moves and situations. They have invested a significant amount of time and practice, akin to mastering a musical instrument or sporting activity.
It appears that Etter has had some non-official times even faster than his world record as well: he reports 4.30 seconds in one YouTube video.
“Really easy scramble,” the high school world record holder writes.
[Feature Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images]